Distress among Indigenous North Americans: Generalized and Culturally Relevant Stressors

Melissa L. Walls, Les B. Whitbeck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Stress process and life-course models of mental distress emphasize sociocultural and historical processes that influence stress exposure and the impact of stress on mental health outcomes. Drawing from these theoretical orientations as well as concepts from the historical trauma literature, the authors examine the effects of culturally relevant and more generalized sources of stress on distress among North American Indigenous adults and test for the potential cumulative and interactive effects of stress on distress across the life course via self-reported early childhood and adult and contemporary stressors. Results of ordinary least squares regression analyses reveal positive, significant associations between general stressors and distress as well as culturally meaningful stressors and distress. In addition, the authors found evidence of the accumulating and interactive impact of stress on psychological distress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)124-136
Number of pages13
JournalSociety and Mental Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (DA13580) and the National Institute of Mental Health (MH67281) (Les B. Whitbeck, principal investigator).


  • community-based mental health
  • cultural differences
  • distress


Dive into the research topics of 'Distress among Indigenous North Americans: Generalized and Culturally Relevant Stressors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this